A new system of Assisted Driving Grading, which aims to help drivers understand how to use the safety technology incorporated into nearly all new cars, has been launched.

Developed by car safety experts Thatcham Research and Euro NCAP, the test – which is said to be the first of its kind – looks to illuminate the often complicated safety assistance systems used in cars. These include features such as autonomous emergency driving and adaptive cruise control.

According to Thatcham Research, many manufacturers ‘overstate the capability’ of their systems which, as a result, means that drivers often don’t use them properly. It’s said that this incorrect use has resulted in collisions and even deaths.

Now, though, the new test aims to clarify this area of motoring. Vehicles will be graded on three criteria: vehicle assistance (how effective the systems are), driver engagement (whether the car assesses if the driver is still in control of the vehicle) and safety back-up (whether or not the car protects the driver in the event of an emergency).

Once completed, the vehicle is awarded from ‘entry’ up to ‘very good’.

Thatcham has already completed its first set of testing which looked at a variety of different types of cars. Both the Mercedes GLE and BMW 3 Series were frontrunners in the test, scoring ‘very good’ ratings. The Renault Clio and Peugeot 2008, meanwhile, only gained ‘entry’ ratings.

Commenting on the new grading system, Matthew Avery, Thatcham Research’s director of research, said: “The systems that are currently allowed on our roads are there to assist the driver – but do not replace them.

“Unfortunately, there are motorists that believe they can purchase a self-driving car today. This is a dangerous misconception that sees too much control handed to vehicles that are not ready to cope with all situations.

“Clarity is therefore required to make sure drivers understand the capability and performance of current assisted systems. Today’s technology must be adopted safely before we take the next step on the road to automation. There are safety and insurance implications that must be considered seriously.”